Happy National Disability Voter Registration Week! The REV UP Campaign, launched by the American Association of People with Disabilities, is a nonpartisan initiative that coordinates with national, state, and local organizations to increase the political power of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. National Disability Voter Registration Week is held the third week of July every year.
Even though people with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the country (nearly 20% of the population, according to REV UP), their political participation has historically been much lower than people without disabilities. According to studies from Rutgers University, the voter turnout rate of people with disabilities was 6 percentage points lower than non-disabled people during the 2016 election. Lower voter turnout rates for people with disabilities are often due to inaccessible polling places and non- policies and practices. The disparity between voters with and without disabilities dropped to 4.7 points in 2018 – a significant improvement over two years. The 2018 study also notes that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as those without, there would be about 2.35 million more voters nationwide.
The importance and political power of the disability community continues to grow when we consider the ripple effect that legislation impacting people with disabilities has on communities – it’s a vote that connects families, friends, advocates, educators, providers, and more. There is incredible potential to bring disability issues to the forefront and to hold elected officials accountable for policies and decisions that impact people with disabilities.
What are the requirements for registering to vote?
In order to register and vote in Minnesota, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- At least 18 years old on Election Day
- A resident of Minnesota for 20 days
- Finished with all parts of a felony sentence
You can vote while under guardianship unless a judge has specifically revoked your right to vote. This means you can register and vote if you:
- Are under guardianship
- Are under conservatorship
- Gave someone power of attorney
- Have a brain injury
- Have a developmental disability
- Have a cognitive impairment
- Experience memory loss
If you have any questions, contact the Minnesota Secretary of State at mnvotes.org, or by calling 1-877-600-8683.
What accommodations are available for voters?
Voting in Minnesota is also required by law to be accessible. These accommodations include:
- Polling places must be physically accessible.
- Voters have the option to receive assistance from others. Voters can bring anyone to assist them while voting, or the voter can receive assistance from their election judges.
- Voters have the option to sign in orally. Voters have the right to orally confirm their identity, and ask another person to write their name if the voter cannot sign their name.
- Voters can use an accessible voting machine, which is available at most polling places. These voting machines can mark a ballot for you, while giving voters privacy.
- Curbside voting is also available. Voters are allowed to ask a ballot to be brought out to them if they cannot easily leave their vehicle. Two election judges from different parties will bring out a ballot, and when the voter finishes casting their ballot, the election judges will bring the ballot inside and to the ballot box.
Why is it important to vote?
Voting is a right, and is an integral part of the democratic process. Voters are able to voice their opinions and choose who represents them and their interests. Elected officials make decisions that impact the programs and services people with disabilities rely on to receive healthcare and live independently in the community of their choice. Because officials have this power, it is important that all people have voice in choosing who represents them, who shares their same values, and who should be trusted to create laws on their behalf.
Where can I find more information on voting?
Check out the following resources on Lifeworks’ Self-Advocacy Conference: My Community & My Rights webpage, with important information on voting for people with disabilities from our conference presenters The Arc Minnesota and the Minnesota Disability Law Center.
What elections are coming up?
We are currently in the middle of an election year. In November 2020, we will elect one U.S. senator, eight U.S. representatives, all 67 state senators, all 134 state representatives, and the U.S. president.
Important 2020 elections dates
- Monday, August 10, 2020: Last Day to Early Vote by Absentee Ballot for the Primary Election
- Monday, August 10, 2020: Primary Election Day
- Tuesday, August 11, 2020: First Day to Early Vote by Absentee Ballot for the General Election
- Friday, September 18, 2020: National Voter Registration Day: Tuesday, September 22, 2020
- Tuesday, October 13, 2020: Last Day to Register for Early Voting in the General Election
- Monday, November 2, 2020: Last Day to Early Vote by Absentee Ballot for the General Election
- Tuesday, November 3, 2020: General Election Day